Many of the big names are off the market, and much of the big money is handed out, so now the attention turns to the second and third waves of free agency.
These are arguably the more essential waves because this is where bargains can be found and depth charts are rounded out.
A guy signing a one or two-year prove-it deal could play himself into bigger money sooner or become an integral piece of a starting lineup for cheaper.
We know that many of the big signings won’t see the end of those big-money deals. But the next round of signings could see their entire deals play out and have the GMs that signed them look very smart for doing so.
Of course, there are still a few big-money, big-name guys still on the market, too.
The Chicago Bears have plenty of holes to fill on their roster, with glaring needs at offensive tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback depth, potential running back depth and more.
The draft can’t fill all of those positions, so here are a few guys that the Bears could (or should) look at.
Orlando Brown Jr., T - The former Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs tackle looked set to get big money, but it hasn’t come his way yet. Reports seem to indicate he wants to play left tackle and be paid for such. Perhaps the reality of the offers hasn’t met with his camp’s expectations, but anything can happen now that the market’s been open for a few days. UPDATE - Moments after publishing, Brown signed with the Bengals!
Cameron Fleming, RT - Fleming was on the Denver Broncos in 2022 and started 15 games. He’s previously played on the New York Giants and New England Patriots. He’s 30 and has played just two years as a full-time starter, but could be a nice piece to round out the depth and potentially compete with a rookie.
Jermaine Eluemunor, G/T - Eluemunor is 28 and played for the Las Vegas Raiders last season and has experience at both guard and tackle. He’s mostly played guard, though. He started all 17 games last season but has mostly been a backup.
Isaiah Wynn, T - A former first-round pick of the Patriots in 2018, Wynn hit the market after a disappointing tenure in Boston. Injuries and up-and-down play plagued him and a move from the left to the right side didn’t go as planned in 2022.
Ben Jones, C - At 33, Jones is on the older side, but was a Pro-Bowler last season for the Tennessee Titans, where he played the past seven seasons. He was originally drafted by the Houston Texans in 2012 and played both guard and center for them.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT - The veteran defensive lineman has been around a while, coming into the league with the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2016 draft. But he’ll turn 28 next week. He’s been with the Los Angeles Rams for the last three seasons and has started 61 of 93 career games. Not a huge sack numbers player, but he would be more experienced and better than anything Chicago had last season.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE - It seems like ages ago that Ngakoue was breaking out with the Jacksonville Jaguars, traded to the Minnesota Vikings, then traded again to the Ravens. He signed with the Raiders and then was traded again last season to the Indianapolis Colts for Rock Ya-Sin. Ngakoue remains productive (19.5 sacks the last two seasons combined) and young-ish (he’ll be 28 at the end of the month). But you have to wonder why teams have been so quick to ship him out.
Dawuane Smoot, DE - The former Jaguar has spent most of his career as a rotational player, starting just 17 of the 87 games he’s played since entering the league in 2017. But he’s managed to survive three coaching changes and has had solid production. The past four seasons he’s had six, 5.5, six and five sacks. That’s pretty consistent production even when his snap count hasn’t been (38 percent, 59 percent, 65 percent and 44 percent, respectively).
Greg Gaines, DT - Gaines spent the last four years with the Rams, who drafted him in 2019. He’s been a consistent rotation player and has earned a starting spot next to Aaron Donald. Gaines started 25 of the last 59 games for the Rams and played over two-thirds of the snaps. He has 10.5 career sacks and 24 QB hits. He’ll be 27 at the start of the season.
Poona Ford, DT - Poona worked his way into starting for the Seattle Seahawks the last four seasons after being undrafted out of Texas in 2018. He has 7.5 career sacks and has played around 60 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps the past four years.
Quinton Jefferson, DT - Jefferson has been around, having played for three teams, including two stints with the Seahawks, who originally drafted him. Jefferson is about to turn 30 but would be a solid veteran offering. He has 20.5 career sacks.
Michael Brockers, DT - SImilar to Jefferson, Brockers is a veteran. Brockers has been around 10 years though and has been durable but didn’t see the field last year and was subsequently released last month.
Darius Slay, CB - There are some reports that the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t want to cut Slay when they couldn’t agree to a contract restructure, so he’s not technically a free agent, yet. But the situation is worth monitoring. UPDATE - Slay is off the board and staying in Philly.
Rock Ya-Sin, CB - The former second-round pick of the Colts (When Matt Eberflus was the DC, mind you), was shipped off to Las Vegas last season for Ngakoue. Could Ya-Sin reunite with his former coach? Maybe. He’ll be 27 this season and has experience in this defense. He hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a second-round pick (two career INTs, high QB rating allowed) but with Kyler Gordon and Jaylon Johnson, he wouldn’t be relied on to be a starter and could be quality depth for cheap.
Shaquill Griffin, CB - Griffin has started 72 of 76 career games played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks since coming into the league as a third-round pick in 2017 with Seattle. He finished last year on IR but has been solid, if unspectacular for his career.
Which players do you want to see the Bears pursue?